ENGAGING THE WHOLE CHILD

Pediatric Developmental Movement Education / Therapy

From conception through infancy and on to walking we progress through organized movements, or patterns of skill and organization, in overlapping waves. Each movement pattern is preceded and followed by other patterns that balance the overall developmental progression. From flexing to extending, pushing to reaching, the pieces of development gradually integrate to become purposeful, pleasurable and communicative movement through space. When all of these movement pathways are available and utilized, then physical, emotional and cognitive growth from childhood to adulthood is supported.

The developmental material and exploration include the Reflexes, Righting Reactions and Equilibrium Responses (RRR). These comprise an "alphabet" of movement which, when combined in sequence, forms the "words" of our movement, which we call the Basic Neurological Patterns (BNP). Together, the Reflexes and the Basic Neurological Patterns underlie volitional movement and establish a baseline for physical, emotional and cognitive choice-making.

When any of the BNP's are skipped or only partially developed, this can manifest in our lives as limitations or problems with our perceptions, movement or thinking. The interruption of this natural ontological process can have many causes. For example, a baby that is propped up before his or her trunk has developed full trunk stabilization skills may develop compensatory patterns and now needs to learn to move according to his or her own level of organization. This can mean enticing the child to revisit crawling, creeping and cruising again, or creating games that challenge the trunk and limbs to explore through the missed pathways.

There also may be congenital or neurological impairments which can cause a gap in the natural progression of this sequencing. Or the developmental process can also be negatively impacted by abuse, negligence, or trauma, either in infancy or later in childhood. Whatever the cause, when interruption of this process is severe, it often leaves a rigid survival

pattern in its wake. These interruptions are carried into our adult lives, where they show up as limitations in our choice making. Our sessions for children or adults include relaxation techniques, time to feel the body again, opportunities to respond to sensations and express feelings through movement, and discussion of new life choices - action! The goal is to practice new behavior in pleasurable activities in the sessions or classes and then again at home or out in the world.

The good news is that the pathways in our nervous system which govern BNPs are highly plastic; they are not destroyed and can be revived through the process of relaxation and reactivation - we find the combination of movement, coordination activities and touch to be most powerful. If children or adults have the opportunity to revisit the neurological movement patterns with skilled support, the intrinsic knowledge of our original choice-making process can be awakened. By exploring and integrating missing links of developmental movement, the mind can respond, finding flexibility with less habitual reactions. We expand our capacity for greater ease in our relationship and interaction with our environment.